Ax Ox by GnoomesRelease date: March 3, 2023
Label: Rocket Recordings
It’s been some time since psychonauts Gnoomes graced us with their presence, so it a very welcome indeed to find their new album Ax Ox is finally with us. Purveyors of some of the finest psych dance (is that a thing?) around, and casting aside numerous difficulties both personal, and political, their optimism is a balm for these times. Hallucinogenic melancholy through a vision of one-ness and community, they deliver music to bring us all together.
It all starts so downbeat though as the white noise of ‘Ural Sun’ lays out an unnerving beginning. It soon explodes in a kaleidoscope of sound with the title track. From here on in its a smorgasbord of sound inviting in krautrock, Euro disco via the sound of Eno’s Berlin, and techno, all dipped in vat of lysergic acid. The intensity of ‘The Neighbor’ infuses its mechanical resonance with a humanistic sound redolent of early Simple Minds, as the arms aloft second half brings us all closes to both each other, and the outer limits.
There’s an almost science fiction element to the preamble of ‘Mirror’, which sounds for all the world like an excerpt from the BBC sounds studio during an episode of Dr Who. These cultural cornerstones provide a synchronicity, which whilst probably accidental, serve as a nostalgic fix. It’s a combination of nostalgia and looking forward that Gnoomes do so well. Take the throbbing beginning of ‘Loops’, scraped from the Factory floor in Manchester and delivered in new ways from the sphere of their home country of Russia. It’s reminiscent of the communal days of Amon Duul where escape was achieved through music, community, art, and drugs.
‘Eternal Trans Siberian’ is one of those moments which evokes the majesty of Kraftwerks ‘Autobahn’, with its motorik rhythm driving the pulsating beat. A sense of triumphant ecstasy undulates throughout, as the music goes ever on and on. The final point being irrelevant, with the action of just being there in the moment bringing you right to the dance floor at 2am when nothing else happens. It’s a thrilling moment, full of life, and a pure Gnoomes trademark. The experimentation of ‘Bristoled’ is a stark moment of introspection after the revelatory experience of the previous track.
‘The Bridge’ and ‘Salted Caramel’ continues this period of introspective meandering before the band take us on one final roadtrip with ‘NST’, a quieter affair but nonetheless engaging, it’s a suitable ending to a great album. The wait for a new Gnoomes album has certainly been worthwhile and there is plenty here which shows the urge to continue to experiment. The album has an almost transitional feel to it, undoubtedly brought on by the nature of some the tracks which evoke journeys across the continent, but it also feels like a welcome personal return for the band members. It’s certain to be welcomed with open ears by its listeners. Excellent stuff.